The hospitality industry is dynamic and ever-changing. We have seen a tremendous amount of transformation in the hospitality world over the past few years: consolidation in the market, new direct bookings strategies, changes with the OTAs, and of course, new marketing trends. In reaction to these quick and sometimes groundbreaking changes, industry conferences, both large and small, are critical to staying on top of trends.
This fall, we were invited to several of these conferences, including the Michigan Bed & Breakfast Associations’ annual conference, PAII, and AIHP. Though the amount of information at these conferences can sometimes be overwhelming, they are also a great way to connect with our customers and peers. So I thought it only makes sense to discuss some of the many benefits of attending conferences and provide you with a few helpful tips for when you decide to go.
For more information about industry conferences and new educational & networking opportunities for innkeepers, listen to the Innspeak Podcast with Kris Ulmer of PAII. CLICK THE BIG BUTTON TO LISTEN.
Learn & Connect
In addition to our Customer Advisory Board, we use conferences as a way to learn more about our industry and the marketing needs of properties. As illustrated earlier, new technologies are shaping new guest expectations as well as new ways to operate and market properties. Staying connected with the here and now of our industry sheds light on opportunities for us to innovate and empower our innkeepers to do what they do best!
Educate the Industry
We have a rule at Odysys: We only attend conferences that we speak at. Why? Because we believe providing education to our industry is more important than simply having a booth. We keep ourselves on the cutting edge of marketing, SEO, and advertising, and we want to share that knowledge with you. As people who love to travel, we want to help give innkeepers the tools they need to thrive in the face of OTAs and big box hotels not only because it pays our bills but because these are the properties we want to stay at when we travel!
Positive relationships are at the crux of this industry. Furthermore, creating authentic and personal connections is one of the top reasons why people visit smaller properties in the first place. Conferences help us bond with each other and with our customers. Nothing builds camaraderie better than meeting face to face. Also, getting together for an event with people who professionally throw events is an amazing perk of this industry that we don’t like to miss out on!
Growing the Network of Our Peers
This industry continues to expand and progress. Attending conferences gives us the ability to learn more about other companies tackling the same or similar problems as us. Some of the best solutions and innovations come from the joining of two otherwise different ideas. We are always on the look out for partnerships or complementary technologies that can help both us and our customers. Industry conferences are the perfect place to do exactly that.
Lastly, conferences are a lot of fun! We got into this business because we love to travel. You don’t have to twist our arms to get us to go out and explore, meet new people, stay at phenomenal properties, and of course, sample local cuisine! Conferences are an awesome excuse to experience a new city or town and connect with the properties and local businesses that make that place special.
Tips for Your Next Conference
1) We recommend selecting workshops and sessions that cover three key topics:
- Operations: These workshops can provide in-depth and specific information about the day-to-day grind of running a B&B. We’ve attended conferences in the past that host cooking classes, workshops on back office management, guides to crisis response, and more.
- Industry News: If you struggle to stay on top of the latest industry news, conferences are a great place to hear some of the smartest people in the industry discuss the latest and most relevant changes and trends. You can learn more from one workshop or lecture than you would from hours spent browsing the web.
- Marketing Strategies: These workshops provide an unparalleled education on both basic and cutting-edge ways you can take your marketing and social media strategies to the next level. You’ll leave with effective tools and methods you can implement as soon as you get home.
2) Take the time to meet as many fellow innkeepers as possible. Conferences are perfect breeding grounds for the cross pollination of ideas on all aspects of hospitality. By talking with fellow innkeepers, you can find out what tools they are using and what is working for them. You might even make a few good friends while you are at it!
3) Focus on learning new ways to generate more reservations and boost your direct bookings.
4) Take the time to explore the conference area. After all, new places and experiences are why we love this industry! Think about conferences like a mini-vacation. You can learn a lot, and have an amazing time doing it.
Attending industry conferences are important to us, and they should be important to you, too. If there is a certain conference that you would like to see us at, recommend us or drop us a note. We’re always open to visiting new conferences, meeting new innkeepers, and sharing what we’ve learned with the industry. We’ll see you there!